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?Because we are Indian,? said Shridula.
So begins a spiritual journey for Divena as she struggles against an entire culture to proclaim a faith close to her heart ...
“Because we are Indian,” said Shridula.
So begins a spiritual journey for Divena as she struggles against an entire culture to proclaim a faith close to her heart while rocking the world of two families.
A refreshing breeze wafted through the palm fronds and stirred up the fragrance of spring. Taking in a deep breath, the old lady pushed back an unruly lock of gray hair and heaved a sigh of desperate hope. It looked to be a near-perfect market day. The kind of day that lulled her into dreams of selling enough vegetables to afford a whole bag of rice—a small one, of course. Perhaps, if the profits were especially good, she would even buy herself a few pieces of pineapple. What a treat that would be!
Cocking her head to one side, the old lady evaluated her paltry display of vegetables. She artfully repositioned her basket of peppers and pushed the four pitiful cucumbers forward and to one side. A steady stream of shoppers passed by. Men mostly, but a smattering of married women as well. Wives whose husbands had not deserted them. Women who need not fear old age, for they had sons to look after them. Many shoppers crowded by, yet few paused to glance at the old lady's vegetables.
"Beautiful hot peppers!" the old lady called in a reedy voice. A forced smile creased her sunken face. "Fresh today! Picked from my own garden this morning."
Still the shoppers hurried past.
Hours later, long after the sun had sucked away every last vestige of the morning breeze, the old lady still had not earned so much as ten paise. Not ten pennies.
"Lovely peppers, spicy hot," the old lady sighed.
No, no! She must not allow herself to sound desperate. She brushed a calloused hand across her weathered face and refreshed her smile.
"Cucumbers, fresh from the garden!" The old lady didn't dare call them lovely. Not such small ones, plucked from the vine before they had a chance to finish growing. Still, if someone should have a particular hunger for cucumbers this day, and if hers were the only ones at the market, well, perhaps then ...
A woman with two whiney children tugging at her green sari stopped to pinch the old lady's peppers.
"Fresh and firm," the old lady encouraged.
"We shall see about that," sniffed the woman in the green sari. She dug through the old lady's basket and pulled out an especially nice pepper. After giving it a thorough inspection, she laid it aside. As the old lady watched, the woman chose another pepper, then another and another until she had a pile of the best ones. The woman in the green sari scowled at her squealing children. "These peppers will do," she announced as she scooped them into her bag. She handed the old lady three ten-paise coins. Thirty cents.
"No, no! One rupee!" the old lady insisted. Even that was less than she had hoped to get for her nicest vegetables.
"Hah!" laughed the woman in the green sari. "Do you think you are the only one selling hot peppers at the market today?"
The old lady tried to protest. She tried to barter. But the loud shouts of the woman in the green sari frightened the children and made them cry all the louder. Other shoppers stopped to gawk at the old lady seller who provoked such outrage in her customer. In the end, simply to get rid of the woman and her screaming little ones, the old lady accepted the coins. The woman in the green sari pushed her children along ahead of her and hurried away, a triumphant smile on her lips and her bag filled with the finest of the old lady's peppers.
* * *
As the sun sank low, a great weariness settled over the old lady. With a sigh of resignation, she hefted her basket of leftover vegetables onto her head and, clutching the three coins in her hand, turned toward home.
Over the years, the dirt road between the marketplace and the old lady's hut had grown so familiar to her feet that she no longer paid it any mind. It used to be that she prayed to the God of the Holy Bible as she walked the road. But that was before her husband deserted her, back when her sons still lived.
As the old lady approached her home, she slowed and stared toward her thatched-roof hut. A few cautious steps, then she stopped and squinted hard into the gathering shadows. Someone sat crumpled against her door. A filthy, muddy someone with wild hair and ragged clothes. A beggar, no doubt. Yes, certainly a beggar, and right in her doorway, too.
"Get away!" the old lady ordered. "This is my house!"
The beggar unfolded her small self and lifted her dirty face. A child! Only a skinny little girl. Nine years perhaps, maybe ten. Possibly even a starving eleven-year-old.
The scrawny wisp of a little one stared up with weary eyes. "Ammama?" she whispered.
Excerpted from The Love of Divena by Kay Marshall Strom. Copyright © 2012 Kay Marshall Strom. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
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Posted December 24, 2013
I am only familiar with the nation of India due to the fact that I grew up in a church that supported a fantastic ministry in that country. When I think of India, I only think of Calcutta, but this book does not take place there. The history I learned in this book and the understanding I gleaned from its pages were truly the highlight of my reading this book. I had heard of the caste system being against the law, but I had no idea that the rich still did their best to circumvent the portions of the law that did not favor them.
The story and the characters truly failed to capture my attention beyond the historical aspects. While the author's writing style is free-flowing and fairly easy to read, I was not captivated by this book as I thought I might be. But it is hard to judge since this is the final book of the series, and I have not read the entire series. While this final book in the trilogy could be read on its own (like I did), I think I struggled some because I had not read the first and second in the series.
I was horrified to discover that even in 1990, lower-class people in India were treated so very badly. I was shocked that the higher-caste people could relate to him, even though it was clear that he was uneasy. If you're looking for a book that may help you to understand India's recent history, this is the book for you!
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent men.
Posted October 10, 2012
I just finished this look into India's cast system. I cannot even imagine living under these conditions.
Anjan has been dropped at her Grandmother's door...almost literally. Can you imagine naming your daughter "Fear"? Her Grandmother changes her name to Divena ,"Divine Blessing"!
When you read what Divena's father has done to her younger sister, to make her a beggar...make sure you have tissues handy.
I love the way some of the things work out in this story. Learning to read....is the answer. Also with the help of our Lord, a group of these people become Christians. What a difference believing in Him brings to their lives.
To me this Caste systems sounds a lot like slavery in this country. Whippings, branding, beatings, and more! Such injustice.
This is the third book in this series, but it can be read alone. Don't miss this eye opening book!
I received this book through Pump Your Book Publicity Tours and the Publisher Abingdon Press, and was not required to give a positive review.